The parallel leadership of the Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, in Ebonyi State have united in calling on Governor David Umahi to boost workers welfare in the State against the hardship imposed by COVID-19 pandemic.
In their separate statements released to newsmen in Abakaliki on Friday, in commemoration of this year’s International Workers day, the parallel chairmen, Comrades Ikechukwu Nwafor and Leonard Nkah decried government’s poor wages and incentives to workers in the State.
They called on the State government to be more sensitive to the sufferings of its workers as such would further enhance productivity, especially as they grapple with inhibitive measures and challenges imposed by Coronavirus.
Nwafor, in his release, condemned reduction in workers salaries discovered in some quarters, in the name of helping government fight the pandemic and called on Ebonyi State government never to contemplate such.
He emphasized that the present situation calls on State government in particular, and politicians in general to offer help to workers and the common citizens.
While calling on workers to carefully observe all precautionary measure as they discharge their duties, he commended the State government’s actions with respect to handling the pandemic in the State which according to him drastically delayed as well as reduced infecrion.
He however, enjoined workers not to hesitate to call on Labour leadership in case of any victimization and undue influence in their engagement with government.
Nwafor stressed: “Council has noticed that some State workers are subjected to salary reduction in the name of taking care of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We have the mandate of the National President of NLC, Comrade Ayuba Wabba, to condemn such salary reductions/ deductions from workers wages.
“We call on Ebonyi State government to rather be more proactive in the measures for the reduction of suffering of the masses by improving and engaging in more meaningful and sustainable palliatives.”
Nwafor who siezed the opportunity to express displeasure over Governor Umahi’s recent ban of two journalists in the State, however commended him for boldly retracting the ban, and calling for harmonious working relationship.
He called on journalists to always consider the general interest of the entire State in their news reportage in order to avoid putting Ebonyi in the dark.
Meanwhile, Nkah in his statement, urged Governor Umahi to extend palliatives to workers, in addition to other legitimate welfare packages to enable them grapple with protective requirements and the lockdown challenges across the State.
Nkah who stated unequivocally that workers in the State are hungry, beckoned on the Governor to urgently attend to workers needs as a matter of health and life.
Part of Nkah’s statement read: “I appeal to the governments at all levels to kindly attend to the worker’s needs as a matter of urgency.
“Let them pay salaries and remunerations with every other package as palliative to the workers and the people to help them observe the guidelines such as the lockdown, sit-at-home directive, use of face masks and regular hand washing.
“As a leader who feels the pulse of the people, I can state unequivocally that workers are hungry and in dire need of food.
“That, it is only the provisions of food and welfare packages and the availability of such will help both the workers and the government achieve a successful fight against the pandemic and win this war threatening our health and life.”
Nkah admonished workers to collaborate with the State government in the fight against the pandemic in anyway they can, including sensitization and obedience to prescribed preventive measures.
Some of the workers who spoke to our correspondent lauded Umahi for his giant strides in physical infrastructure but urged him to prioritise workers’ welfare and social benefits in order to boost their morale.
The workers, most of whom spoke on condition of anonymity, urged the government to revisit the minimum wage and salary adjustment paid to Ebonyi workers which according to them, was the lowest in the country, grossly below subsistence.
The workers echoed: The State government doesn’t pay us promotion benefits.
“The payroll chart of the government made no provisions for increments, and Ebonyi receives the least wage in the Country.
“Salary adjustment occassioned by the recent N30,000 minimum wage in the State was next to nothing. “In fact, the Governor is not paying minimum wage, and this is affecting our productivity.”
Recall that the NLC in the State was allegedly balkanised by government earlier in Umahi’s administration when Ikechukwu Nwafor fought for restoration of workers salaries as it were before Umahi.
In order to achieve his stand over the workers, a kangaroo impeachment was allegedly sponsored by government against Nwafor, leading to installation of Leonard Nkah.
However, Nkah’s leadership is only recognised in the State, as investigations revealed that his installation did has not received the blessing of the NLC national leadership.